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    Right v. Right

    By Jeremy | October 17, 2006

    It's been an especially lousy week for the evangelical wing of the Republican party. Among the blows: In his new book Tempting Faith, former #2 man at President Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives David Kuo claims (among other things):
    After two years in the White House, I had come to realize that regardless of where the President's heart lay on the matter, the back-office Republican political machine was able to take Evangelicals for granted--indeed, often viewed them with undisguised contempt--and still get their votes. G.O.P. operatives trusted that Christian conservatives would see the President more as their Pastor in Chief than anything else. Bush had long used the podium as a pulpit, telling voters that above all he was an evangelical Christian who had been saved from his drinking by Jesus and rebuilt his life around his faith. That inspirational story was carried throughout the country by a network of prominent evangelical pastors who had been quietly working since 1998 to recruit thousands of other pastors to join the Bush team. After the election, however, those same pastors became accomplices in their own deception by not demanding that the President's actions in office match their electoral fervor.
    In reference to his old boss and hero to GOP evangelicals, President Bush, Kuo concludes:
    George W. Bush, the man, is a person of profound faith and deep compassion for those who suffer. But President George W. Bush is a politician and is ultimately no different from any other politician, content to use religion for electoral gain more than for good works. Millions of Evangelicals may share Bush's faith, but they would protect themselves--and their interests--better if they looked at him through the same coldly political lens with which he views them.
    In addition to Time magazine excerpting his book, Kuo was featured this weekend on 60 Minutes where he claimed:
    "God and politics had become very much fused together into a sort of a single entity. Where, in a way, politics was the fourth part of the trinity. God the father, God the son, God the holy spirit, God the politician."
    Last week's cynical take on Bush's foreign aid programs in the Boston Globe. Reflecting on Kuo's book, progressive evangelical Jim Wallis writes for the Huffington Post:
    David Kuo was one of those genuine "compassionate conservatives" which many liberals don't believe really exist, but truly do. Yet he eventually came to realize that there weren't many compassionate conservatives in the White House, which preferred to use the religious community for their own political purposes.
    Former Congressional GOP power-broker Rep. Dick Armey on the influence of evangelical Dr. James Dobson:
    "When it comes to James Dobson, my personal experience has been that the man is most interested in political power.... America's Christian conservative movement is confronted with this divide: small-government advocates who want to practice their faith independent of heavy-handed government versus big-government sympathizers who want to impose their version of 'righteousness' on others through the hammer of law.... Our movement must avoid the temptations of power and those who would twist the good intentions of Christian voters to support policies that undermine freedom and grow government."
    "Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies.... There's a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn't work unless it's dumb.... These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic."
    Dobson let others defend him, including Republican congressmen and the president of Dobson's political action committee. At Beliefnet, an open letter to Dr. Dobson from Sojourners COO Jeff Carr asks why Dobson and others waited so long to condemn Republican leadership for their handling of the Rep. Mark Foley scandal:
    But somewhere along the way, I fear you have lost your way. Your message of hope has turned into a message of partisan politics.... I just read your words that were posted on your Web site on Friday about the Foley scandal, and I must say I was very disappointed, but not surprised. While, thankfully, you did condemn the acts of Rep. Foley, you spent the majority of your time attacking "the liberal media," the Democratic party, and gay people - who, according to your thinking, are the real problem in America.
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    Topics: evangelical, george w. bush, news, politics | 3 Comments »

    3 Responses to “Right v. Right”

    1. Joshua Says:
      October 17th, 2006 at 9:51 pm

      wow, that’s crazy! great post!

    2. ben Says:
      October 18th, 2006 at 1:54 pm

      I used to work for Jeff Carr. I think he’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders saying what he means without being overtly disrespectful.

    3. John Liotti Says:
      October 18th, 2006 at 7:24 pm

      Interesting stuff. You and I both know wonderful people who have worked in the Faith Based Office. But – religion and politics are strange bedfellows. I really don’t know what is right – other than what Micah 6:8 says – do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.